The weekend is winding down (alright, technically I should be in bed right now and it should be all over) and in being able to spend 48 full hours with my son I’ve picked up on a new behavior. One that I’m not pleased about but it also confuses me. He’s started hitting when angry or frustrated.
I understand that he’s…ohmagod, today is his 18 month birthday and I wasn’t paying attention to the date!!…anyway, he’s 18 months old and he doesn’t have a lot of vocabulary with which to express himself. I even understand his frustration when he wants to do something, or hold something and I’ve prevented him from doing so. Even though I explain why I move him or the object he doesn’t understand the reason and just thinks I’m a big meanie. In the past he’s flopped into jelly-bones on the floor, screamed and fake-cried; but this weekend is the first I’ve seen him deliberately hit (me or anyone) out of frustration and anger.
Let’s see…case in point could be today while he was sitting with me at the table. He in his Stokke chair playing with a plastic jack-o-lantern, Mama making a grocery list and looking at recipes on the laptop. I happened to have a tablecloth on the table as we had company over last week and it hadn’t been removed yet. Liam discovered that he could pull on the tablecloth to make objects that were once out of his reach much closer. This discovery, as well as the consequences, all happened quite quickly and ended with my tea mug spilling contents far and wide and my iphone being covered in a bowl of rice. (To absorb the liquid and prevent damage, for those who don’t know. This was the first I’d had to try this tip.) Luckily the laptop screen only had to be wiped off.
I took Liam off the chair where he collapsed into his infamous jelly-bone move, screaming, “Noooooooooooooooo!!!!” Oh boy do we all love that word these days. I explained (if that’s the correct word for my irritated speech) that he couldn’t pull on the tablecloth because it knocks things over and he needed to be off of his chair for right now [until further table baby-proofing could be done]. His response was to raise his hand to hit me in the face! He didn’t follow through because I put my hand on his arm and said, “Liam we DON’T HIT!” and he lowered his hand, caught. I straightened up and attended to wiping off my laptop with Liam screaming his toddler-version of obscenities at my ankles. I felt him grip my pant legs at the shins and pull himself up…at which point he chomped down on my leg!
I think I yelled, “HEEYYY!!” but I know I leaned down, put my hands under his armpits, picked him up to look closely into his eyes while saying, “Liam, we don’t hit and we don’t bite!!” My stern voice and quick movements made his face crumple and he cried true, big alligator tears; so of course, then I felt like the d-bag.
So, my question is; where does the act of hitting come from? Is this an innate way for a toddler to take out frustration? Neither Husband nor I have ever hit him or each other. I know there’s normal toddler pushing (hitting?) at his school while they’re figuring out territory, possession and frustration; but does one toddler learn it from another toddler who’s experienced it (maybe by a sibling) and the act of hitting gets passed around like the runny nose they continually share? Or could it truly be just an intrinsic reaction?